High Costs? Roob Scraps His Plan To Privatize State Mental Hospitals

Fssa Behold, a sudden about-face by Family & Social Services Administration Secretary Mitch Roob on the issue of privatizing state mental hospitals:

The Family and Social Services Administration has dropped a plan to privatize three state hospitals, throwing new uncertainty into its future care for chronically mentally ill patients.

Less than five months after FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob told a state panel that a federal audit showed Indiana needed a new way of delivering care to chronically mentally ill patients, he has ended negotiations with a group vying to take over Richmond State Hospital.

Roob for the past 2 1/2 years maintained that the best way for the hospitals to remain open decades from now was for local nonprofits to take over their operations. However, in a Jan. 24 letter to the leader of the Richmond group, he said the state needed to revamp its system of care for mental patients.

"It must transform to a recovery model for the patients rather than an indefinite institutional placement," Roob wrote in the letter to Jan Passmore, president of Behavioral Health Services Inc. of Richmond.

The change in strategy was driven by a variety of reasons including cost concerns. Roob, in a telephone interview, said he decided to end the Richmond talks because Gov. Mitch Daniels asked state agencies in December to cut spending after a lower tax revenue forecast. Turning over the 300-patient Richmond State Hospital to a local group would cost the state $3 million to $5 million.

"We were not comfortable spending that money when times might get tough," Roob said.

Translation, please.

Help On Hold: Disabled Centers May Actually Get The Cash They're Owed

Fssa It took almost six months and a bunch of bipartisan complaining, but Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Mitch Roob has finally decided to send -- with a few strings attached -- already-allocated funds he had been withholding to seven disabled living centers across Indiana.

Bryan Corbin of the Evansville Courier & Press reports:

"A Southwestern Indiana agency that helps the disabled live independently was facing serious cutbacks when the state would not provide $265,000 the program depended upon. Now the state has relented somewhat and is willing to release the funding the Legislature budgeted for seven regional Centers for Independent Living.

"State lawmakers of both parties had complained bitterly that the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, or FSSA, was defying the will of the Legislature when it would not spend the $2.54 million lawmakers had allocated last April for the seven centers.

"One of the seven programs in funding limbo since July was ATTIC Inc., in Vincennes, Ind. The nonprofit ATTIC program assists the developmentally disabled and elderly in living independently, rather than in group homes or nursing homes.

"In 2007, the Legislature had increased funding substantially for the seven programs. ATTIC planned to use its $265,651 to increase its five-member staff by two-and-a-half positions. But when the FSSA did not release the funding, ATTIC could not expand — and had to lay off two staffers, leaving it with three people to serve 125 disabled clients in Knox, Daviess, Gibson, Pike, Martin, Greene and Sullivan counties.

"FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob said the state agency was willing to fund the seven programs but insisted they provide greater accountability for how tax dollars would be spent, using performance measures.

"The impasse persisted for months, with several lawmakers writing letters to Roob and to Gov. Mitch Daniels questioning the non-payment of already-approved funds.

"Late Friday — just four days before the Legislature reconvened for its 2008 session to rewrite state laws — the FSSA softened its position somewhat: It offered to amend contracts to fund the seven programs at the original budgeted levels.

"Roob said the agency was able to leverage federal matching funds with the state money.

"'It has always been our intention to fund the program, but we are not giving anybody a blank check for $2.5 million,' Roob said this week. If they sign the contracts, the programs still must provide performance measures, but would be fully funded."

Supermarket Sweep: Goldsmith And The Mitches Are Ready To Sell

Fssa Just in case you hadn't had enough of the Guv and his lackeys bashing state government, former Indianapolis Mayor Steve Goldsmith has joined in.

In a gushy article for American.com extolling the virtues of privatizing everything, Goldsmith writes, among other things, about the awesomeness of the Guv's plan to outsource large chunks of the Family and Social Services Administration:

"Undertaking a transformation of the agency internally rather than working on it from the out­side would have been difficult. Only a strong and experienced management could attempt it, and the FSSA didn't have one. Its managers consisted primarily of county-office directors who were qualified but had risen through the ranks of the broken system, and its central office was staffed by political appointees who came and went with administrations. The middle management required to implement Roob and Main’s vision simply did not exist.

"On a broader level, the state’s leaders had ample experience in outsourcing. Governor Daniels was an adviser to the city of Indianapolis dur­ing its period of comprehensive privatization reform, and he had been the director of the Office of Management and Budget for a period under President George W. Bush. In addition, Roob had been involved in competitive sourcing in the past for the city of Indianapolis. Indiana also benefited from consultants and vendors—many of them for­mer public officials—who could see the challenges through the eyes of Roob and Main."

You have to wonder how many computers Goldsmith went through to write this; he had to have shorted out at least a couple drooling all over the keyboard. Oh, the ego.

Your Tired, Your Poor: Those Who Have Not Get By With Less And Less

Fssa The Star's Tim Evans writes an informative and somewhat alarming piece about the state and fate of Indiana's Medicaid system:

"Indiana's Medicaid program spends nearly $6 billion a year to help about 1 million Hoosiers with health-care needs ranging from childbirth to nursing home care.

"To some, the program is a bloated behemoth that has grown far beyond its intended scope, a budgetary black hole that swallows up more than $16 million a day.

"Others contend it is the stingiest -- and among the worst overall -- in the U.S., denying thousands of Hoosiers coverage they could get if they lived in many other states.

"The truth is somewhere between those two extremes.

"One thing, however, is clear: As state officials look to plug revenue gaps in the coming year, Medicaid spending will be a target.

"Gov. Mitch Daniels recently fired the first volley, saying a new budget forecast that shows state revenue falling below predictions could lead to cuts 'in some of the entitlement programs like Medicaid.'

"But advocates for the poor, elderly and disabled say there is little room to trim without cutting off critical lifelines for needy and deserving Hoosiers.

"All Hoosiers have a stake in the question, because their tax dollars pay a significant share of the Medicaid bill. Higher numbers of uninsured typically mean crowded emergency rooms and health-care costs that keep climbing to offset hospitals' unreimbursed care expenses.

"The question of how much a state can and should do for those unable to care for themselves has been debated since the first state Medicaid programs were established in the 1960s.

"'How a society, how a state addresses its less fortunate tells a lot about the morality of that state,' said Eleanor Kinney, co- director of the Hall Center for Law and Health at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis."

Defending Liberty: Fired Fort Wayne Workers Sue Guv, Mitch Roob

Fssa From the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel via Blue Indiana: The Mitches got served.

"A class-action lawsuit filed Friday by former employees of the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center against Gov. Mitch Daniels, Family and Social Services Secretary Mitch Roob and other state officials seeks monetary damages for all former employees fired by a private contractor hired to run the center from May 2005 until it closed in mid-April.

"The lawsuit claims Liberty Healthcare Corp. of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., was illegally hired because the state did not seek competitive bids as required by state law. All state-paid employees working at the center in December 2005 lost their jobs and state benefits, according to the suit. Four individually named employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 62, the union representing center employees, are seeking back pay, current pay, lost benefits, lost retirement income and other compensatory damages.

"The suit mirrors one filed in January 2006 by Anita Stuller, a 34-year employee of the center, and the union. A month prior, Stuller and the union unsuccessfully sought a temporary injunction in Allen Superior Court to stop the transfer of power to the private company.

"Their attorneys then took the case to the Indiana Court of Appeals, which ruled in July that the state acted illegally in failing to comply with public bidding requirements. The state has appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, where it is pending."

Boardroom Blitz: ACS Taking Its Public Lumps, Trying To Make Nice

NegativeCIO Magazine takes a look at the "Mess at ACS" and what it means for customers of the outsourcing machine.

(For the uninitiated, ACS is the former employer of Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Mitch Roob. The company also partnered with IBM on FSSA's 10-year Medicaid privatization deal, which is worth more than $1 billion.)

"Affiliated Computer Systems has had a rough couple of years, to put it kindly.

"After a second failed attempt to take the company private, boardroom upheaval that ended with the exodus of five of its directors and an SEC investigation into backdating of stock options that led to the dismissal of its CEO and CFO, the public image for IT services provider Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) has taken a hit.

"What has occurred over the last two years at the Dallas-based outsourcing provider is rare, not only in the IT services field. 'It's rare in any industry,' says Eugene Kublanov, CEO of San Ramon, Calif.-based outsourcing advisory neoIT. 'You hardly ever see boardroom issues spill out this publicly into the market. With ACS, it's been particularly ugly because of the merry-go-round of rumors and actions that have surrounded the company for some time.'

"While ACS is issuing statements of reassurance to its clients, and experts say the turmoil has not noticeably affected the quality of the services the company provides, the recent events leave open questions about the company’s future and what it means for ACS customers. 'An actual change in control is much easier to deal with than chaos surrounding a potential change in control,' explains Randall Parks, cochair of the global technology and outsourcing practice at law firm Hunton and Williams. 'I'm not sure anyone could anticipate what has happened at ACS.'"

Heel Dragging: Time For FSSA To Put Disability Money On The Table

FssaFort Wayne Journal Gazette to Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Mitch Roob: Pay up, dude.

"No taxpayer should object to measures designed to ensure public dollars are spent wisely. All taxpayers should object, however, to measures that serve only to stymie delivery of services to Hoosiers with disabilities.

"That is what appears to have been implemented by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration in the distribution of $2.5 million to the state's seven independent living centers.

"FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob told The Journal Gazette's Niki Kelly that additional dollars allocated by the Indiana General Assembly last spring call for a higher level of review than the agencies are accustomed to meeting.

"But David Nelson, executive director of the League for the Blind and Disabled, suggests that the agencies have worked in good faith to meet ever-changing demands from the state and, at times, have worked just to get a response from FSSA.

"What's behind the six-month stalemate is unclear, but one result is certain: The loss of services to people who depend on them. And the services aren’' mere conveniences; they are programs that help Hoosiers with disabilities, some of them seniors, stay in their own homes instead of in hospitals or nursing homes.

"'This is taking services away from people with serious disabilities,' Nelson said. 'They are the big losers here.'"

They Might Be Ogres: FSSA Breaks Out Red Tape For Disability Groups

Fssa Is this story from today's Fort Wayne Journal Gazette another example of how the Guv's administration is cutting costs and creating a leaner state government? Withholding money from state-funded centers that help Hoosiers with severe disabilities? For shame.

"The state's seven centers for independent living thought they won a victory in April when legislators included a monstrous increase in state funding for them in the biennial budget.

"But more than six months later, the groups are still fighting to receive the money.

"The centers – in Vincennes, Muncie, Richmond, Indianapolis, Bedford, Fort Wayne and Terre Haute – recently banded together and sent a letter informing state lawmakers about their dispute with the Family and Social Services Administration.

"The centers help people with severe disabilities in about 50 counties to remain participating members in their communities through peer support, service referrals, independent living skills training, mobility assistance and public education.

"The letter said that if FSSA does not release the money by the end of the year, three centers will shut down and other centers will begin laying off staff.

"And it detailed a monthslong back and forth between the centers and FSSA.

"According to the letter, the state issued a solicitation for proposals for the new funding on June 4 and each center submitted individual proposals for the funds allocated by the General Assembly.

"In July, they were asked for a specific spending plan with measurable outcomes.

"After much confusion, the final documents were turned in Aug. 31.

"The centers became concerned that the process would not be finished by Oct. 1 – when the state-funded centers would run out of money – so the state extended the contract for three months using the old funding levels.

"Discussions have continued back and forth, according to the letter, with FSSA always asking for additional data.

"'We have complied with every request the state has made. We have developed proposals to meet their stated requirements only to be told that they have come up with more requirements and need more information. We have provided this additional information,' the letter said. 'We have developed (in collaboration with state staff members) clear outcomes that we will achieve.

"'No one will tell us where the actual hold up is and, if it is true that they need more information, no one at the state is able to tell us what it is they want.'"

FSSA Secretary Mitch "Are You Sure We Can't Outsource This?" Roob's typical bureaucratic response:

"'If we are going to increase funding we want to get it off on good footing rather than giving it to them with no strings attached; with a shared set of goals and objectives,' he said. 'These folks have attempted to make us out to be ogres. We're not really ogres. But we have a responsibility to at least attempt to ensure the public that the dollars are used prudently.

"'When they have given us a plan which indicates that they have a model that will help them accomplish goals and objectives that they set forward, then we’ll release the dollars.'"

Keeping Tabs: ACS Buyout Bid Takes A Turn For The Publicly Ugly

SaletagTDW forgot to post this story last week about top-level goings-on at Affiliated Computer Services, which holds a 10-year privatization contract for Indiana's food stamps, Medicaid and welfare services. The contract is worth more than $1 billion. Interesting reading.

"'We could fire you and the entire management team,' the five directors wrote, 'but that would not help our shareholders, customers or employees.'

"So they quit instead.

"Corporate boards rarely confront their chairman so publicly, which is what happened Thursday at Affiliated Computer Services, a $4.9 billion outsourcing company.

"Five directors resigned in protest of the chairman's efforts to take over the company, writing a heated letter that accused him of trying "to subvert the process in order to prevent superior alternatives to your proposal from being consummated."

"The bitter internal battle spilled into public view Thursday, with all sides pointing fingers, complete with accusations that certain directors were self-dealing and that two big law firms - Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom - were working both sides of the deal."

Hit The Brakes: FSSA To Hold Off On Automated Welfare System

Fssa It's been quite some time since we heard from Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Mitch Roob and his fabulous plans to privatize everything. Ken Kusmer of the Associated Press brings us this update:

"The state's human services agency decided Thursday to postpone the initial rollout of its automated welfare eligibility system by at least a week to Oct. 29 because of software problems.

"The Family and Social Services Administration had been anticipating a Monday launch of the automated system for a 12-county swath of northern Indiana centered around Marion.

"However, software problems prompted the decision to push back the launch by a week, FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob told The Associated Press.

"'There wasn't the comfort level that we wanted to have, so we'll delay it a week,' Roob said. 'I think there are a half dozen rather technical issues.'"

Knowing this crew's tendency to rush ahead without thinking, things must've been pretty effed up for them to call off the launch. Either that, or Mitch The Second actually learned something from former Bureau of Motor Vehicles chief Joel Silverman's brush with not-quite-ready technology.

Insiders, what say ye?

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